Exclusive The CQC spent £13.3m on rolling out its ‘Ofsted-style’ GP inspections last year, Pulse can reveal, as the regulator has come under pressure to scrap the scheme from the BMA and the RCGP.
The figure was revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request as part of an investigation by Pulse looking into the true costs of CQC inspections, which also found that practices were having to devote up to hundreds of staff hours on preparing for the inspections.
The CQC’s new inspection and regulation regime for general practice was announced as part of Professor Steve Field’s appointment as chief inspector of general practice in August 2013 and was fully rolled out in October 2014.
And the Pulse investigation found that the cost of the rollout has so far been £13.3m – which was under the £16.5m originally budgeted.
The investigation has also discovered that CQC fees could soon be set to double.
GPs currently pay around £6m for the inspections, but the Government has said that regulatory activities will soon have to become self-funding. If the annual costs of the inspection regime do not increase, this means that GPs will be having to double their contribution to cover the whole costs.
Currently, GP practices with a single location pay between £616 and £948, while those with more than one location range from £1,341 to £16,759.
The inspections – which give practices ratings of ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘needs improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ – have faced a wave of criticism from the GP profession, with the GPC calling for it to be scrapped and the RCGP calling for an immediate halt in recent weeks.
Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC and a former chair of the RCGP, said about the college’s statement: ‘We are extremely disappointed that the Royal College of General Practitioners has called for an “emergency pause” to our inspections of general practices, which we carry out to make sure that people across England get safe, high-quality and compassionate primary care. The safety and quality of care of people who use these services continue to be our number one priority.